Traces of the carnival celebrations in Binche, a former industrial region of Belgium, can be traced back to the 14th century. It is part of the continent-wide pagan-related rites celebrating the end of winter. The festival was recognised by UNESCO as an ‘Oral and Immaterial Patrimony of Humanity’ in 2003. But to the inhabitants of the small city of Binche it is much more than that: the three days of Mardi Gras celebrations and also the rituals in the preceding weeks of actual Mardi Gras are the expression of an intense sense of belonging to a community, creating very strong social bonds. The main character around which the festival evolves is the ‘Gille de Binche’. Probably created around the end of the 18th century the Gille, organised in various brotherhoods, obey very strict rules during carnival: they can only dress up as a Gille, with the ostrich feather hat, the straw-stuffed costume, the bundle of twigs to ward off evil winter spirits (which is also thrown to relatives or friends in the public as a greeting), and the wooden clogs during the day of Mardi Gras, they should at all times be accompanied by a drum, should never be seen sitting in public. The hardest requisite in a context of free flowing alcohol during the carnival days is probably not being seen drunk. Being a Gille is an honour but comes at a price, and many members go through severe financial sacrifice to pay for the rent of the costume (300€ for the ostrich hat), buy the oranges which will be thrown to the public as a sign of good luck (throwing them back to the Gille is a grave offence) and the bottles of champagne and other alcoholic beverages consumed during the festive days.
Second day of carnival related events. This time in Binche, the cradle of carnival for the French-speaking part of Belgium. The carnival festivities in Binche, dating back hundreds of years, were rightfully registered as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2003. The whole city vibrates for months preceding the festival, preparing for the 3-day long climax starting next sunday and ending on mardi-gras with a spectacular parade.
In the ongoing quest of finding out if Belgium is still around or still makes sense, this month of February will focus on a series of carnivals in and around Binche. On Saturday the various brotherhoods and carnival associations were out in the streets of La Louvière for the ‘Soumonces en musique’.
Now this is the REAL thing: the hard training at the grounds of the ‘brodal serei’ boxers from the RCAF trained by former World Champion E’Phoutang, the incessant kicks with the knees, the elbows, the sweat, the sighs and screams, the pain, the bruised muscles, the smell of rotting boxing gloves. All things which inspired Emmanuèle Phuon, a Brussels based choreographer with Cambodian roots, to create a contemporary dance piece based on ‘brodal serei’, the Cambodian version of kickboxing. More HERE. More on Emmanuèle Phuon HERE…
Emmanuèle Phuon, a Brussels based choreographer with Cambodian roots and creator of the ‘Khmeropédies’ trilogy, has only one week left to finish her new choreography inspired by ‘brodal serei’, the Cambodian version of kickboxing. Saran, a professional boxer, has been coaching the 3 dancers from the Amrita Performing Arts organisation, Khon Chansithyka (Mo), Nget Rady and Noun Souvitou (Tou).
About 100 garment factory workers from the Manhattan Textile and Garment Corp., located in Kampong Cham province, travelled to Phnom Penh to hold a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy, requesting the U.S. put pressure on the U.S. owner of the factory to comply a ruling by the Cambodian Arbitration Council which demanded union workers who were fired following a strike to obtain higher wages be reinstated.